Photography program helps adults with autism express themselves

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Amidst the thousands who flock to the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms is a group of five amateur photographers with autism, capturing a unique view of the trees.

One of then is 27-year-old Brian Depenbrock.

"I kind of like the color of the cherry blossoms today," Brian said.

These five are members of the In-Focus Project, a weekly photography program through the Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children (CSAAC).

Craig Pardini from the program explains, "Sometimes individuals with autism can better express themselves in photographs than in words."

Pardini, a professional photographer himself, launched the program in 2008, and he's brought the team to photograph the cherry blossoms for the past four years in a row.

"Some will focus on the whole cherry blossom, some will focus on color aspect on a tree, and some will focus on people walking around," he said.

He said the participants learn fine motor skills and practice engaging with the community - and, clearly, they enjoy it.

"I've learned that photography is my thing," said 28-year-old Joe Myers. "I really enjoy it."

For more information, visit the CSAAC website.